Fermented foods in questions and answers
It is believed that fermented food is a panacea for all diseases. We tried to figure out if it is really so and how fermented products differ from probiotic products.
What are fermented foods?
For those who are not familiar with the concept of this food trend, fermentation is when bacteria feed on sugar and starches and secrete lactic acid. It contributes to the production of the useful enzymes that accelerate chemical processes and change the composition of the product.
What foods can be fermented?
Historically different nations have developed their own fermented foods, and the list is endless. You heard or ate many of them: kefir, yogurt, ayran, cheese, sauerkraut, pickles, kvass, kombucha, soy sauce, pu-erh tea, willow tea, wine, beer, mead, vinegar.
Who invented fermenting foods?
People were forced to ferment foods to preserve them: the acidic environment in them prevents the growth of harmful bacteria. Archaeological reports confirm that as early as in the Neolithic era, people were making a drink from fermented rice, honey and fruit.
Is fermented food healthier than frozen food?
Generally yes. During fermentation, all food and taste qualities are preserved in the products. Frozen foods also contain vitamins, but only before being cooked.
What is special about fermented foods?
Fermentation is called "artificial digestion" because during the fermentation process the food partially breaks down and changes the nutritional value. These foods are easier to digest. In some cases, they are enriched with vitamins and minerals. Probiotic foods are considered particularly beneficial.
What are probiotic foods?
They are foods that contain probiotics - microorganisms and substances of microbial and other origin, which heal the body. Probiotics can be found in our intestines and in lactic fermented foods. For example, in live fermented milk products - kefir, yogurt, acidophilus, koumiss, soft cheese, but also sauerkraut, miso, kombucha.
How do probiotic foods help?
Their main property is to normalize bowel function, increase immunity, remove toxins and help absorption of nutrients.
You may eat healthy but it provides little help if the digestive tract does not work properly. That's why probiotics are considered as important as vitamins.
Research shows that probiotics inhibit the activity of Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria believed to cause gastric ulcer and duodenal ulcer. They also improve mental condition, increase stress tolerance, cleanse skin.
Are fermented products without probiotics healthy?
Majority of fermented foods contain vitamins and minerals, even if they don't have probiotics. However usually this means they contain large quantities of salt and should be consumed moderately.
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are food components that help probiotics grow inside the body. They are not digested in the upper gastrointestinal tract, but reach the large intestine, where beneficial bacteria eat them. Thanks to this, the intestinal microflora is restored and normalized.
Prebiotics are found in dairy products, cornflakes, cereals, bread, onions, chicory, garlic, beans, peas, artichokes, asparagus, bananas.
Do supermarket products contain probiotics?
Unlikely. Most of the initially probiotic products are pasteurized (a heating process which is useful for extending the shelf life of a product, but deadly for good bacteria), salted, poured with vinegar or preservatives.
When choosing fermented products read labels and avoid processed, pasteurized foods. For best results try kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, kefir from small local producers or alternatively make your own kombucha with skoby or kefir with kefir grains.